The WCAG isn’t a set of laws that can be enforced, but many governments have adopted it as the standard for their accessibility laws. Here’s a short overview of international accessibility laws that rely on the WCAG.
In early 2018, the updated version of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 came into effect. Section 508 requires that every online platform run by federal bodies or any organization that receives federal funding must be accessible for all users. Under updated rules, these sites have to comply with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
When individuals in the US have sued businesses with websites that aren’t accessible, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), courts have required those websites to reach WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance.
In 2010, EU officials adopted WCAG 2.0 Level AA as mandatory for all official EU sites, and expanded that to all public sector web platforms and to include WCAG 2.1 in 2016. The E.U. also adopted WCAG 2.0 as the standard for the new European Accessibility Act (EAA), which will become law in 2025.
In June 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) was passed into law by the federal government in Ottawa. The ACA requires a large number of public and private sector sites to become accessible according to WCAG.
Several provinces have also passed accessibility laws, such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005), the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (2013), and the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act (2017), which all use the WCAG as the standard for compliance.
The Australian Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was enacted in 1992 to eliminate barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from accessing real-world workspaces. Over time, the governmental Human Rights Commission and other authoritative bodies in Australia interpreted the DDA to include online services. Official recommendations “strongly encourage” all businesses and services to meet WCAG 2.1 standards to avoid violating the DDA.
In 2010, the Australian government’s Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy required all Australian government agencies to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
Israel Standard (IS) 5568 is an accessibility law that came into effect in October 2017. IS 5568 requires most businesses to make their sites accessible based on the WCAG.
Ignoring the WCAG Risks Legal Action, as it forms the backbone of accessibility legislation in most countries around the world, and it’s globally recognized as the most reliable and effective set of accessibility standards. If you comply with the WCAG, you can’t go wrong.